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The cost of care

Tagged In:  NHS

With average life expectancy set to hit the late 80s by 2030, we're all faced with the prospect of needing long-term care later in life. But what are the costs? And do they vary depending on where you live?

Delivering more care in the community to relieve pressure on hospitals is one of the key objectives outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View. With an ageing population, more and more people will be living with long-term health issues. The Government and NHS chiefs are acutely aware that we need to find new models of care to avoid our healthcare system being put under intolerable strain.

Funding is a key issue and inevitably the subject of much discussion. The BBC recently launched an online calculator to raise awareness of care costs in different parts of the country. 

The calculator highlights significant variations in care costs in different regions across the UK. In the City of London, the cost of living in a nursing home providing 24/7 medical support is estimated at £559 per week. In North East Lincolnshire that figure reduces by over 21% to £440 per week. In Surrey the Council contributes £302 (or just under 62%) to the average weekly cost of nursing home care, with the individual having to find the remaining £187. In Newcastle the Council contribution is £432 out of an average cost of £494, representing 87% of the total. 

In 2014 the Office for National Statistics predicted that the number of people in the UK aged 75 and over would increase by over 89% to 9.9 million by 2039. In February this year The Guardian published research by the Nuffield Trust showing that 40% of the NHS budget is spent on the over 65s, with healthcare for the over 85s in 2013-14 costing an average of £7,274 per person for women and £7,917 per person for men.

In 2013 the Government created the Better Care Fund (BCF) – a single, pooled £5.3 billion budget aimed at encouraging greater cooperation between the NHS and local government throughout England. One of the conditions outlined in the 2016-17 BCF Policy Framework is that part of the fund should be invested in NHS-commissioned out-of-hospital services. Focused on delivering care to people in their own homes, out-of-hospital multi-disciplinary teams usually comprise a range of health professionals, including nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

The Office for Budget Responsibility projects total public spending, excluding interest payments, will increase from 33.6% to 37.8% of GDP between  2019-20 and 2064-65, mainly because of our ageing population. That's the equivalent of £79 billion in today’s terms. The debate about how we will respond to this huge demographic change is not over yet.

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